Francis was born at the beginning of the Great Depression. His parents, Herman and Bess Tipps Tucker, had moved from the Lois area to Michigan where Herman worked for US Rubber. Francis loved to spend his summers in Lois and eventually returned to attend MTSU, majoring in Industrial Arts. His weekend base was the home of relatives, Coot and Ola Tipps.
Francis was an enterprising young man, which he attributes to his seamstress mother. As a boy, he would buy wood, make something to sell and buy more wood. While at college, he contracted with a local cleaner to pick up and deliver dormitory residents’ laundry. Later, he worked part-time at the Murfreesboro newspaper, supervising 16 paperboys.
His most fruitful college job, however, was to taxi local students back and forth to college each weekend in his 41 Ford. It was there that the longtime friendship with June Renegar developed into romance and marriage in 1951. June is the daughter of Robert and Artie Renegar, a deeply rooted Moore County family.
After college, Francis worked at the Army Corp of Engineers in Tullahoma.
In 1958, he joined the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) in Huntsville. In 1960, he and 2000 others, including Werner von Braun’s German engineering team, transferred from ABMA to NASA. Francis became a charter member of the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) and Dr. von Braun was named Director. MSFC is the rocket and spacecraft propulsion research center, located at Redstone Arsenal.
Francis worked at NASA until 1981, with most of his time spent as a designer of structural components for NASA flight projects. His proudest achievement was his work on the Saturn V Project that resulted in Americans landing on the moon in 1969.
According to Francis, competition is the motivator for achievement. The Russians launched Sputnik in 1957. America’s first reactions of surprise and fear became their determination to be first in space.
After retirement, Francis began working for Micro Craft in Tullahoma, where he used his experience to write proposals. In 1985, Micro Craft was awarded a contract to build a full-scale Space Station model. Francis hired engineers and technicians to build models of what would become the present International Space Station.
In 1986, Micro Craft added a NASA wind tunnel contract and opened a Huntsville office, where Francis became General Manager. He retired from Micro Craft in 1987, but continued writing proposals part-time.
Following her graduation from MTSU, June was busy raising three children. She worked three years as a secretary in Management Services at AEDC. Later in Huntsville, she taught 2nd grade for 17 years. At one point, to meet some new regulations, she was required to take 30 semester hours of additional credits. She did this in the evenings, Saturdays and summers.
Around 1980, the Tuckers took on new challenges. They bought an old home in Fayetteville, restored it and enjoyed living there fourteen years. Yet, they had a desire to return to Moore County. In 1991, they learned that the home of distant relatives, Frank and Bea Tucker, was for sale. The Tuckers had been the owners of Tucker’s Store in Lois.
Built around 1880, the home needed much work. Francis did most of the extensive renovation. True to his ability to envision an outcome and make it happen, Francis saw a Bed and Breakfast from the beginning.
Until 2003, when health challenges caused them to discontinue, the Tuckers operated the Tucker Inn Bed & Breakfast, where they entertained guests from all over the world. Francis’ “gift of gab,” along with his fasinating stories has kept many guests entertained. June is the natural hostess, with a knack for feeding guests delicious food, in beautiful surroundings, while pleasantly making them comfortable.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” A fitting description of Francis and June Tucker.
Author’s note: My thanks to sons, Kevin and John Tucker, for their assistance.
By JUNE PUGH (June Pugh is an award-winning author whose More About Moore column appears every other week in The Moore County News. You may contact her at <firstname.lastname@example.org>)